UK Lawyers for Israel libeled charity

UK Lawyers for Israel’s Jonathan Turner. (UKLFI/YouTube)

An Israel lobby group has made an out-of-court settlement in the UK after libeling a Palestinian charity in blog posts and letters to donors.

Defense for Children International Palestine announced on Tuesday that UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) had withdrawn allegations that they provide “financial or material support to any terrorist organization.”

In an email to The Electronic Intifada on Wednesday, UKLFI also admitted to “support” for an Israeli ministry’s work.

Defense for Children International Palestine said civil rights lawyers Bindmans had issued proceedings on their behalf in the UK’s High Court against UKLFI last year.

The human rights group said UKLFI had carried out “a well-orchestrated political and media misinformation campaign” against it since 2018.

This campaign has aimed at isolating it, harming its reputation and preventing it from receiving charitable donations, Defense for Children International Palestine said.

A terse UKLFI statement on Monday claimed that “we did not intend to suggest that the organization has close current links, or provides any financial or material support to any terrorist organization.”

But in several blog posts published on UKLFI’s site in 2018 and 2019, the Israel lobby group had described Defense for Children International Palestine as a “terror linked” charity.

No apology

After The Electronic Intifada emailed UKLFI for comment on Wednesday, it published a second statement denying it had “recanted on its previous statements.”

“We have not made any payment of costs or damages, nor made any apology,” it stated.

Its chief executive Jonathan Turner also replied in an email denying they had libeled the Palestinian charity.

Tamsin Allen, the charity’s lawyer at Bindmans, said they had issued libel proceedings against UKLFI “in relation to false allegations” that the charity “provides material support to terrorist groups.”

She said that “We are pleased to confirm that the case was settled at an early stage with UKLFI confirming that it did not intend to make any such allegations and publishing a statement to that effect.”

Defense for Children International Palestine said in its statement that UKLFI was part of a context in which a network of Israeli groups and their global partners “with the support of the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs” has led “targeted and organized defamation campaigns to delegitimize humanitarian and human rights organizations” in Palestine.

The Ministry of Strategic Affairs is an Israeli government “black-ops” department which targets Palestine solidarity initiatives around the world.

Dirty tricks

Turner admitted in an email to his group’s “support” for the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, but claimed his was an “independent” organization.

He did not reply when asked what was the nature of their support for the Israeli ministry and how often they coordinate with it.

The ministry has a well-established pattern of working with front groups in countries around the world, including the US and the UK.

Journalist Hillary Aked also last year concluded that UKLFI “appears to have – at the very least – an informal working relationship with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

Children’s rights

Defense for Children International Palestine was established in 1991 and works to investigate and document human rights abuses against children, “holding both Israeli and Palestinian authorities to account.”

The group “carries out its work in a situation of armed conflict where perpetrators of war crimes enjoy systemic impunity,” said Brad Parker, a senior adviser with the group.

“Rather than demand Israeli forces stop intentionally and unlawfully killing Palestinian child protesters in the Gaza Strip, or that Israeli authorities hold perpetrators accountable, rising conservative nationalist social forces in Israel and their global partners aim to silence and eliminate legitimate human rights work.”

Last month Belgium rescinded an invitation to Parker to address the United Nations Security Council on violations of children’s rights.

The disinvitation came after intense Israeli government pressure and smears from UKLFI.

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Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist and associate editor with The Electronic Intifada. He lives in London. Biography here.